Sep 14, 2012, 12:00 PM EDT
US Presswire photo
The Nats and Braves meet this weekend for the final time … in the regular season.
It has loomed on the schedule for weeks, a mid-September showdown with the only team that still had a chance to overtake the Nationals in the NL East. But then the Nationals kept winning, the Braves started losing and now the two teams enter this weekend series in Atlanta with 8 1/2 games separating themselves.
And that unexpected turn could leave the Nationals in a really unexpected position by the time they leave town late Sunday night: having all but clinched the franchise's first division title.
Even in a worst-case scenario, the Nationals will end the weekend holding a still-comfortable, 5 1/2-game lead with 16 to play. If they win just once at Turner Field, they'll maintain a 7 1/2-game lead. If they take two of three, that lead jumps to 9 1/2 games. And if, by some chance, they happen to sweep … well an 11 1/2-game lead with 16 to go is mighty tough to surrender.
Not that anyone in the clubhouse is speaking in those terms, at least not in public.
"Obviously, we have a big series coming up these next three days," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "We need to go down there andRead more »
NL EAST STANDINGS
THE BASEBALL SHOW
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
Follow us on Twitter
- At 7-12, Nationals still searching for answers
- Marlins 6, Nats 2: Another misplay opens the floodgates
- Must-win? Sunday's game may be that for Nats
- Scherzer doubtful for Tuesday's start
- Slumping Nats already 7 games back in NL East
- Bats silent in 8-0 Marlins win over Washington
- Thumb swollen, Scherzer can't throw in bullpen
- Nationals try to get back on track in Miami
- Lack of late-inning execution holding back Nats
- Marlins 3, Nats 2: Familiar storyline leads to loss